The relationship of sex and risk behaviours to students' use of school-based health centres in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
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OBJECTIVE: Among other benefits, school-based health centres (SBHCs) are thought to provide opportunities to identify and help adolescents with risk-taking behaviours. The present study examined the use of SBHCs at three high schools in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to determine the extent to which SBHCs reach students at risk, and whether there are sex differences with respect to this reach. METHODS: Self-administered surveys of students in grades 10 to 12 at the three high schools were carried out in May 2006. RESULTS: The response rate was 70% of registered students. Boys were more often at risk than girls due to substance use, while girls were more often at risk due to sexual activity and suicidal thoughts. More girls visited SBHC nurses than boys (49% versus 10%; P<0.001). After adjusting for age, boys who saw a SBHC nurse were significantly more likely to engage in all risk-taking behaviours than boys who did not see a nurse; girls who saw a nurse engaged in most risk-taking behaviours significantly more often than girls who did not. However, no more than 22% of students with each specific risk behaviour used SBHCs to address those risks, with the exception of girls consulting for sexual health reasons, who made up 59% of all girls in the schools who reported being sexually active. CONCLUSIONS: Boys infrequently use SBHCs, and many at-risk students of both sexes do not use SBHCs. If the full potential for these SBHCs to help students with risk behaviours is to be realized, the need to increase reach to students is clear.
Paediatrics and Child Health
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Paediatrics and Reproductive Medicine not elsewhere classified